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After the Monday split I went to a hotel near the Fresno airport.

The next day, solo adventure! Jameson had gone overland to a Rob Thomas concert, so I decided to drive to the Hollywood Bowl to catch the LA Phil. My first stop was Kawaba Rice Ball to pick up dinner to bring to the concert. I'd never had rice balls and wanted to give them a try. I got curried chicken, spicy tuna mayo, and "bomb" (plain rice ball with a sweet soy pickled egg inside).

After checking into a hotel, I drove to the Park & Ride location for the Hollywood Bowl shuttle. It was 5:30pm and unfortunately we had an inexperienced driver, so we didn't arrive until after 7pm :/ But it was enough time to get comfortable and eat my meal before the concert started. I had a box seat a little to the left of the stage, putting me in the line of fire for the low brass. Just how I like it :D

Each box has four seats. There was a family of three sharing my box, and next to us a couple with a season subscription to the Bowl. We had a great conversation over our food. The rice balls were delicious! I liked the tuna and the bomb the best. Coupled with some Rabbit Ridge wine, it was the perfect prelude to the show!

I was especially looking forward to this concert because my grad school trombone teacher plays with the LA Phil. I hadn't seen him since 2010, and have never heard him play live in a professional setting.

The concert opened with Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances", a favorite of mine. I played it during high school and it's got some great low brass parts. After that Yuja Wang came out in a sparkling silvery cocktail dress to play the Prokofiev "Piano Concerto No. 2". It was fantastic. If you've never seen Ms. Wang or another virtuoso pianist live, I recommend you make time to do this at least once in your life. It's amazing what people are capable of. There are plenty of videos of her on YouTube. Here is a clip that I took from that evening's concert.

Next was Debussy's "La mer". I'd never heard it before; it's a really nice, pretty piece. And finally the LA Phil performed Ravel's "Bolero". In this piece there is a soloist from every instrument group. The trombone solo is often used as an orchestra audition piece, and so I've played it many times for teachers and for live auditions. Tonight I got to hear my teacher, James Miller, play it. He did an amazing job. I might have been jealous.

The concert ended with a fireworks finale and Bizet's "L'Arlesienne". The whole show was awesome. I had a blast! After the show I found my teacher and his friend Denis, who does the videography for the Bowl and also plays trombone. We caught up over drinks at a local bar. Great hang!

The next day I had to return the rental car. As I was searching for the address, I realized that Little Tokyo was only a 15 minute drive away....

I parked right outside the Marukai and dove right in. The last time I'd been here back in 2010 I'd been super poor and could only buy one or two items. This time I was able to be a little more indulgent ;)

The Kit-Kats and Castella cake were for sharing, and the banana Pocky was for Jameson. The rest is all mine muahaha. I'm especially intrigued by the Mt. Fuji "cider" (the blue bottle on the right). Wonder what it tastes like!

Back at the train I unpacked and relaxed.
The next day, opening day, we found out that our Ringmaster was out sick with both laryngitis AND bronchitis. Yikes :/ Luckily his understudy, Michael Keen, was ready to step in!

(photo courtesy Michael)

It's hard enough to fill in for a Ringmaster. But to fill in on opening night in Los Angeles, with the company's CEOs in the audience and an almost sold out crowd of 13,000 people including some celebrities, having never performed the role before...it's not an exaggeration to say that Michael did a PHENOMINAL job. The entire show went without a hitch, and the audience loved it. You are hands-down awesome, Michael!!!

Friday was a split. There wasn't enough time to get back to the train (parked almost an hour away) so many folks went out to explore and enjoy an afternoon in LA. I didn't do anything amazing, just ran to Target for groceries and did some computer work.

Saturday and Sunday were both three show days, our first six pack in a while. The shows went very well. We had a full house for just about every show, and the audience really gets into the acts. On Sunday evening Bill Watrous came to the show, and we had a few minutes to say hello afterward. For those who don't know, Bill is a jazz trombone legend. He came out to see us in Anaheim last time. I'm hoping we'll be able to return the favor and come to one of his performances in a few weeks.

On Monday we only had one evening show, giving many of us time to relax after the long weekend. Some folks still had work though...a morning PR event. Here are our elephants enjoying some watermelon "popsicles"! (CLICK HERE for video)

(photo courtesy Ryan H.)

As per usual in LA, we were visited by several celebrity guests. I know for sure that Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey of Grey's Anatomy) and Jim O'Heir (Gerry from Parks and Recreation) came to the Monday night show. There were other celebrities too but I don't have a solid list. On MY celebrity list was my teacher, who took the time to come see the show and hear me play. Hopefully he could appreciate the artistry of my clowny sounds ;)

We still have two shows on Tuesday, but I doubt I'll have time to post so am doing it today. After the shows we travel to Ontario (California!) for a somewhat lighter week. Yay!

Other stuff:

The Staples Center is one of the bigger venues that the circus plays. It's the home of the Lakers and the Clippers, and has also hosted major artists like Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Madonna, and more. For many of us, it's a "big deal" that we get to play here! All that said, here are some photos from backstage.

The door to the Lakers locker room. Wonder what it looks like in there...

Walking down the long red hallway that leads to the administrative offices, you'll see framed photos in sets of four. Each group of photos features athletes, artists, or events that have spent time at the Staples Center.

Security was very good here. We had to keep our ID badges on us at all times. The exit sign near the floor is in case of fire, so that you can see where the exit is even if you're crawling. Smart.

Let's be honest, all arenas look pretty much the same backstage. Lots of concrete, harsh fluorescent lighting, and all of our stuff taking up space :P


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jul. 16th, 2015 03:42 pm (UTC)
We call those rice balls "kimbap triangles" in Korea and you can get one for like .80! I LOVE LOVE LOVE the tuna and mayo ones!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )